How to Find Potential Landlords For Your Property in the UK
This is something you might not like to hear but is invariably true: Landlords in the main will not change their letting agents while there is a tenant in their property.
Common reasons for this are;
A landlord is generally contracted for at least six to twelve months
Landlords feel they may lose a good tenant
A landlord may perceive transitioning from one letting agency to another too much of a hassle
Most landlords feel letting agents give pretty much the same service
With those misconceptions in mind, let’s dispel them one by one;
Ending Contracts Between Landlord and Letting Agents
If a landlord is not being provided with the service they signed up for, they are entitled to end any contract they may have.
In any case, if a landlord has passed the term of the contract, they are free to leave with little notice (usually a month or two).
The termination of a contract does not need to coincide with the end of a tenancy.
It’s important to remember that a Tenancy Agreement is between the landlord and tenant.
A letting agent is merely acting as a third party on the landlord’s behalf, meaning this will not alter any agreements made between landlord and tenant.
Indeed, often it is in the landlord's interest to seek a new letting agent while there is still a tenant in their property as it saves the extra expense of advertising for a new tenant.
Contrary to popular belief, if the letting agency hasn’t been providing a good service, tenants may be pleased about the change and may stay on for longer.
Changing letting agents during tenancy isn’t as difficult as it first may seem.
In most cases, the new letting agency will make the change on the landlord’s behalf, completing the processes required quickly and efficiently in the background.
A new agency would contact the tenant to inform them of the change and advise them of the new contact details and payment procedures, to go on to obtain a copy of the tenancy agreements, read referencing reports and tenancy deposit details, and to check the inventory for outstanding issues.
The next task would be to read all relevant property documents including safety certificates and then to visit the property ensuring it is fully compliant with health and safety regulations.
A new letting agency would even collect keys for the property from the previous ones.
How Large is the Letting Agency Market for Private Landlords?
According to the Government's latest social housing stock reports, private landlords provide just under three million units or bed spaces throughout the UK.
Generally (and statistically speaking) the number of Private Registered Providers (Or PRPs) for social housing is directly relatable to the size of the area.
The chances of letting agencies finding private landlords increase with the size of the town or city in which they operate.
But how do you find those private landlords for your letting agency?
Essentially, there are three ploys.
Pooling your resources with similar, though non-competitive organisations or agencies
Offering services for free
Advertising for Private Landlords
Generally, it is agreed that landlords will not consider swapping letting agencies while they have tenants in their property.
Landlords in the main see letting agents as a ‘necessary evil’ and one agency much the same as the other.
To stand out from the crowd, you need to understand your client
According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics 50-60% of landlords live within five miles of their properties (outside of London).
When gearing advertising campaigns, ensure you talk about local properties and not the UK as a whole.
A landlord is only interested in what’s happening around them, either directly or indirectly as a result of national changes.
Local property management reports are an excellent tool for subject matter.
Remember too that most landlords are middle-classed men, between forty and seventy years old.
Target your advertising via articles and blogs by grabbing their attention.
For instance, write about the value of a landlord’s property, what’s going on in the local market and their comparison districts, and where the next deal is coming from.
Discipline yourself to discover events and changes in regulations that affect your local area and discuss these in your blogs and articles, inviting opinion and feedback.
Who is an Ideal Landlord to Target?
When practical, always opt for the portfolio property developer over the one property landlord.
Sure, they’ll nail you to the wall on your fees, but it’s more advantageous for your agency to have more properties on your books, as it gives you a perception of size and organisation.
Landlords with fewer properties will be more likely to sign up if your company shows authority.
Don’t Just Target Landlords!
Property buyers, vendors, and tenants will all have a part to play in your campaigns and marketing strategy.
Buyers, in particular, are prospective landlords.
When you become stale for a topic in one category, look for something to write about in another.
The idea of this type of strategy is to stay at the forefront of people's’ minds, so they look to you as a source of interest and authority.
Don’t be disillusioned if this method takes months to achieve because eventually, you will reap the rewards from your hard work.
Audiences and readers engage in many different ways, and some are not as measurable as others.
Some people prefer podcasts over articles so consider these as a natural stepping stone if you feel confident enough in front of a camera!
Try to arrange interviews with authoritative figures such as solicitors, surveyors and local businesses for their take on the local property market.
If the interviews are extended and engaging, break them down into bite-size chunks to allow the viewer to watch at leisure.
One subject that is always worth writing (or videoing) about is school catchment areas.
Buyers are all too aware of the added value of properties in schools with high Ofsted ratings.
When is The Right Time To Approach A Landlord?
It’s often said the time to act with a landlord is when a tenant has handed in their notice, as landlords don’t change letting agents while their property is occupied.
If a property is vacant, the landlord will be looking to rent it as soon as possible, so these are the type of enquiries you are most likely to encounter from a cold call or walk into your agency.
The easiest landlord to convert is one that has a problem with their property- be it in an unpopular area, within a council community, near noise, or poorly decorated.
It would be a mistake to not target landlords still with letting agents.
You ought to be looking for those still with tenants and highlight the issues and problems they face daily from being a landlord.
By being aware of their ‘pain’ or discomfort, it will show that you’ve thought about remedies for this.
If you are strategising an advertising campaign properly, you should already be making landlords aware of your presence.
By using resources such as ‘Linkedin’ to gain property developers’ email addresses.
The method is not that difficult, though it’s implementation requires some dedication.
If you write well or don’t mind employing a ghostwriter for you, build up a habit of writing about local issues around your target audience.
Study the area in which you want to attract business from and write some interesting articles about it from research you’ve made and pieces you’ve found.
Send these out to prospective landlords to build a rapport by putting what you’ve found in front of them in local newspapers, newsletters, Rightmove blogs, and social media.
Look out for property listings and contact the owners where possible as some may not yet have agreed on a contract with an agency.
Write about what’s going on in their local rental property market, and tell them ‘If you like this article, we’d love you to read more in our town blog’.
When writing on Linkedin, address yourself as an author of the blog as opposed to a letting agency. Authors are held in better esteem than letting agents!
Topics can range from local festivities and the property market as a whole to recalling unique experiences gained from running a successful letting agency.
Other topics may include things like how ‘Property values have doubled in the UK in the main over five years’, to ‘How quickly I solved an issue with a tenant’.
Deliver meaningful and worthwhile information- things you are interested in will ‘jump’ from the page.
Pretty soon, you’ll touch on a few key points from your writing that will bring in a following and establish you as an authority in the field- someone to be trusted.
Get landlords to contact you by making them aware of you, by grabbing their attention and building their interest.
Attention builds interest, which in turn promotes trust.
Contact other Non-Local Letting Agencies.
Don’t be afraid to ask other agencies that are not in direct competition with you, what works best for them in getting extra business.
If you have some nuggets of information to share, start with these, and other agencies may feel duty bound to reciprocate.
Either that or they may want to trump your information with some of their own!
Think about collaboration with other types of business.
When paying for a mailshot throughout your local district, it’s surprising how many other companies will want to share the costs with you.
Solicitors, estate agencies and local councils may all be interested in working with you, as your service complements theirs.
Build trust and belief within the agency- and not only with your clients.
Introduce a system where your staff in your agency know their roles and are happy in their positions. Remember the adage from Benjamin Franklin ‘By failing to prepare; you are preparing to fail’.
Speaking of trust, this follows with both client and staff. Be good to your word, honest and transparent, and give off an air of professionalism.
Provide great customer service. Act upon the issues raised by your landlord or tenant in a timely and courteous manner.
Keep your communication at a high level without being overbearing or being too pedantic.
Farming with other non-competitive letting agencies encouraging landlords to move.
Working for Free
In essence, none of the strategies you employ is paying you anything. You’ve already started working for potential clients for nothing by writing your articles and blogs!
You’re giving away information for free in the hope that all of that effort is rewarded by new contracts from an unknown potential landlord with a property to rent.
We know it’s difficult to motivate yourself when you aren’t sure of the possible outcome, but all we can say is that without being proactive in the lettings property industry, your work is likely to plateau out and then decrease.
Landlords Determine How Good a Letting Agency is by;
- Checking your credentials - Membership of the National Federation of Property Professionals holds some weight of authority with landlords in general.
- Determining if you comply with residential codes of practice - Landlords are more likely to feel assured by the membership of The Property Ombudsman, display a commitment to professional standards.
- Scrutinising reviews and feedback.
- Buying into you.
Be sure that nowadays almost everyone is tech savvy and likely to read about your client's experiences.
Lack of communication between landlord and letting agents or letting agencies and tenants are a common problem. These issues are often highlighted through social media, so it pays to provide a professional service.
Cultivating future business is about ‘growing tall oaks from the acorns’ for a greater chance later.
If you do it right, people will come to you for advice for years to come regarding where to source good ‘buy to let’ properties, what to do about a bad tenant, etc.
Put yourself in the landlord’s shoes, and you’ll find it easier to find subject matter that attracts them.
Learn that attracting private renting lets is not about the catchy landlords or agent’s name, or the services you provide, so steer clear of talking about yourself.
Property owners are tuned in to their next deal and how they’ll make it.
They’ll be more interested in stories about a newly built property site in the UK than the fact you are great at tenant referencing.
Stories surrounding the land registry are far more likely to be an interesting read than how you perform your duty of care to private landlords or tenants.
Given time, by writing about what interests private landlords, you’ll find these very same landlords offering feedback on your blogs, podcasts, or articles.
This will lead to more opportunities to discuss other interesting topical issues, and before you know it, you’ll be asked for your advice on items that concern your business.
Your readers will be more attuned to you, and if they have new houses or flats to rent, they’ll approach you as you know what they want.